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Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, [ unreliable source? ] along with Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology.on a concept based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life. Frankl describes it as "the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy"
Logotherapy is based on an existential analysisfocusing on Kierkegaard's will to meaning as opposed to Alfred Adler's Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud's will to pleasure . Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. A short introduction to this system is given in Frankl's most famous book, Man's Search for Meaning , in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories. Presently, there are a number of logotherapy institutes around the world.
The notion of Logotherapy was created with the Greek word logos ("reason"). Frankl's concept is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life. The following list of tenets represents basic principles of logotherapy:
The human spirit is referred to in several of the assumptions of logotherapy, but the use of the term spirit is not "spiritual" or "religious". In Frankl's view, the spirit is the will of the human being. The emphasis, therefore, is on the search for meaning, which is not necessarily the search for God or any other supernatural being.Frankl also noted the barriers to humanity's quest for meaning in life. He warns against "...affluence, hedonism, [and] materialism..." in the search for meaning.
Purpose in life and meaning in life constructs appeared in Frankl's logotherapy writings with relation to existential vacuum and will to meaning, as well as others who have theorized about and defined positive psychological functioning. Frankl observed that it may be psychologically damaging when a person's search for meaning is blocked. Positive life purpose and meaning was associated with strong religious beliefs, membership in groups, dedication to a cause, life values, and clear goals. Adult development and maturity theories include the purpose in life concept. Maturity emphasizes a clear comprehension of life's purpose, directedness, and intentionality which contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful.
Frankl's ideas were operationalized by Crumbaugh and Maholick's Purpose in Life (PIL) test, which measures an individual's meaning and purpose in life.With the test, investigators found that meaning in life mediated the relationships between religiosity and well-being; uncontrollable stress and substance use; depression and self-derogation. Crumbaugh found that the Seeking of Noetic Goals Test (SONG) is a complementary measure of the PIL. While the PIL measures the presence of meaning, the SONG measures orientation towards meaning. A low score in the PIL but a high score in the SONG, would predict a better outcome in the application of Logotherapy.
According to Frankl, "We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering" and that "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances".On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example:
"Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, "What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive without you?:" "Oh," he said, "for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!" Whereupon I replied, "You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her." He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office. 178–179:
Frankl emphasized that realizing the value of suffering is meaningful only when the first two creative possibilities are not available (for example, in a concentration camp) and only when such suffering is inevitable –he was not proposing that people suffer unnecessarily. :115
Frankl described the meta-clinical implications of logotherapy in his book The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy.He believed that there is no psychotherapy apart from the theory of the individual. As an existential psychologist, he inherently disagreed with the “machine model” or “rat model”, as it undermines the human quality of humans. As a neurologist and psychiatrist, Frankl developed a unique view of determinism to coexist with the three basic pillars of logotherapy (the freedom of will). Though Frankl admitted that a person can never be free from every condition, such as, biological, sociological, or psychological determinants; based on his experience during his life in the Nazi concentration camps, he believed that a person is “capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions”. In doing such, a person can detach from situations and themselves, choose an attitude about themselves, and determine their own determinants, thus shaping their own character and becoming responsible for themselves.
By recognizing the purpose of our circumstances, one can master anxiety. Anecdotes about this use of logotherapy are given by New York Times writer Tim Sanders, who explained how he uses its concept to relieve the stress of fellow airline travelers by asking them the purpose of their journey. When he does this, no matter how miserable they are, their whole demeanor changes, and they remain happy throughout the flight.Overall, Frankl believed that the anxious individual does not understand that their anxiety is the result of dealing with a sense of “unfulfilled responsibility” and ultimately a lack of meaning.
Frankl cites two neurotic pathogens: hyper-intention, a forced intention toward some end which makes that end unattainable; and hyper-reflection, an excessive attention to oneself which stifles attempts to avoid the neurosis to which one thinks oneself predisposed. Frankl identified anticipatory anxiety, a fear of a given outcome which makes that outcome more likely. To relieve the anticipatory anxiety and treat the resulting neuroses, logotherapy offers paradoxical intention, wherein the patient intends to do the opposite of their hyper-intended goal.
A person, then, who fears (i.e. experiences anticipatory anxiety over) not getting a good night's sleep may try too hard (that is, hyper-intend) to fall asleep, and this would hinder their ability to do so. A logotherapist would recommend, then, that the person go to bed and intentionally try not to fall asleep. This would relieve the anticipatory anxiety which kept the person awake in the first place, thus allowing them to fall asleep in an acceptable amount of time.
Viktor Frankl believed depression occurred at the psychological, physiological, and spiritual levels. 202 Finally Frankl suggests that if goals seem unreachable, an individual loses a sense of future and thus meaning resulting in depression. Thus logotherapy aims “to change the patient's attitude toward their disease as well as toward their life as a task”. :200At the psychological level, he believed that feelings of inadequacy stem from undertaking tasks beyond our abilities. At the physiological level, he recognized a “vital low”, which he defined as a “diminishment of physical energy”. Finally, Frankl believed that at the spiritual level, the depressed individual faces tension between who they actually are in relation to what they should be. Frankl refers to this as the gaping abyss. :
Frankl believed that those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder lack the sense of completion that most other individuals possess. 185 Therefore, it is important to recognize that the patient is “not responsible for his obsessional ideas”, but that “he is certainly responsible for his attitude toward these ideas”. :188 Frankl suggested that it is important for the patient to recognize their inclinations toward perfection as fate, and therefore, must learn to accept some degrees of uncertainty. Ultimately, following the premise of logotherapy, the patient must eventually ignore their obsessional thoughts and find meaning in their life despite such thoughts.Instead of fighting the tendencies to repeat thoughts or actions, or focusing on changing the individual symptoms of the disease, the therapist should focus on “transform[ing] the neurotic's attitude toward their neurosis”. :
Though logotherapy wasn't intended to deal with severe disorders, Frankl believed that logotherapy could benefit even those suffering from schizophrenia. 208 Frankl suggested that a person with schizophrenia could be helped by logotherapy by first being taught to ignore voices and to end persistent self-observation. Then, during this same period, the person with schizophrenia must be led toward meaningful activity, as “even for the schizophrenic there remains that residue of freedom toward fate and toward the disease which man always possesses, no matter how ill he may be, in all situations and at every moment of life, to the very last”. :216He recognized the roots of schizophrenia in physiological dysfunction. In this dysfunction, the person with schizophrenia “experiences himself as an object” rather than as a subject. :
In 1977, Terry Zuehlke and John Watkins conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of logotherapy in treating terminally ill patients. The study's design used 20 male Veterans Administration volunteers who were randomly assigned to one of two possible treatments – (1) group that received 8 45-minute sessions over a 2-week period and (2) group used as control that received delayed treatment. Each group was tested on 5 scales – the MMPI K Scale, MMPI L Scale, Death Anxiety Scale, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, and the Purpose of Life Test. The results showed an overall significant difference between the control and treatment groups. While the univariate analyses showed that there were significant group differences in 3/5 of the dependent measures. These results confirm the idea that terminally ill patients can benefit from logotherapy in coping with death.
Ecce Homo is a method used in logotherapy. It requires of the therapist to note the innate strengths that people have and how they have dealt with adversity and suffering in life. Despite everything a person may have gone through, they made the best of their suffering! Hence, Ecce Homo - Behold the Man!
In 1969 Rollo May argued that logotherapy is, in essence, authoritarian. He suggested that Frankl's therapy presents a plain solution to all of life's problems, an assertion that would seem to undermine the complexity of human life itself. May contended that if a patient could not find their own meaning, Frankl would provide a goal for his patient. In effect, this would negate the patient's personal responsibility, thus “diminish[ing] the patient as a person”.Frankl explicitly replied to May's arguments through a written dialogue, sparked by Rabbi Reuven Bulka's article “Is Logotherapy Authoritarian?”. Frankl responded that he combined the prescription of medication, if necessary, with logotherapy, to deal with the person's psychological and emotional reaction to the illness, and highlighted areas of freedom and responsibility, where the person is free to search and to find meaning.
Critical views of the life of logotherapy's founder and his work assume that Frankl's religious background and experience of suffering guided his conception of meaning within the boundaries of the personand therefore that logotherapy is founded on Viktor Frankl's worldview. Many researchers argue that logotherapy is not a "scientific" psychotherapeutic school in the traditional sense but a philosophy of life, a system of values, a secular religion which is not fully coherent and is based on questionable metaphysical premises.
Frankl openly spoke and wrote on religion and psychiatry, throughout his life, and specifically in his last book, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997). He asserted that every person has a spiritual unconscious, independently of religious views or beliefs, yet Frankl's conception of the spiritual unconscious does not necessarily entail religiosity. In Frankl's words: “It is true, Logotherapy, deals with the Logos; it deals with Meaning. Specifically, I see Logotherapy in helping others to see meaning in life. But we cannot “give” meaning to the life of others. And if this is true of meaning per se, how much does it hold for Ultimate Meaning?”The American Psychiatric Association awarded Viktor Frankl the 1985 Oskar Pfister Award (for important contributions to religion and psychiatry).
Since the 1990s, the number of institutes providing education and training in logotherapy continues to increase worldwide. Numerous logotherapeutic concepts have been integrated and applied in different fields, such as cognitive behavioral therapy,acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and burnout prevention. The logotherapeutic concepts of noogenic neurosis and existential crisis were added to the ICD 11 under the name demoralisation crisis, i.e. a construct that features hopelessness, meaninglessness, and existential distress as first described by Frankl in the 1950s. Logotherapy has also been associated with psychosomatic and physiological health benefits. Besides Logotherapy, other meaning-centered psychotherapeutic approaches such as positive psychology and meaning therapy have emerged. Paul Wong's meaning therapy attempts to translate logotherapy into psychological mechanisms, integrating cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychotherapy and the positive psychology research on meaning. Logotherapy is also being applied in the field of oncology and palliative care (William Breitbart). These recent developments introduce Viktor Frankl's logotherapy to a new generation and extend its impact to new areas of research.
A number of logotherapeutic institutes have opened up in various countries around the world and include:
Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction with adults, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual's well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions, and to improve relationships and social skills. There are also numerous types of psychotherapy designed for children and adolescents, such as play therapy. Certain psychotherapies are considered evidence-based for treating some diagnosed mental disorders. Others have been criticized as pseudoscience..
In psychotherapy, paradoxical intention is the deliberate practice of a neurotic habit or thought, undertaken to identify and remove it. The concept was termed by Dr. Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy, who advocated for its use by patients experiencing severe forms of anxiety disorders.
Viktor Emil Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor.
Rollo Reece May was an American existential psychologist and author of the influential book Love and Will (1969). He is often associated with humanistic psychology and existentialist philosophy, and alongside Viktor Frankl, was a major proponent of existential psychotherapy. The philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich was a close friend who had a significant influence on his work.
Man's Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy.
Clinical psychology is an integration of science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment, clinical formulation, and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.
Existential psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the model of human nature and experience developed by the existential tradition of European philosophy. It focuses on concepts that are universally applicable to human existence including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life. Instead of regarding human experiences such as anxiety, alienation and depression as implying the presence of mental illness, existential psychotherapy sees these experiences as natural stages in a normal process of human development and maturation. In facilitating this process of development and maturation, existential psychotherapy involves a philosophical exploration of an individual's experiences stressing the individual's freedom and responsibility to facilitate a higher degree of meaning and well-being in their life.
Meaning in existentialism is descriptive; therefore it is unlike typical, prescriptive conceptions of "the meaning of life". Due to the methods of existentialism, prescriptive or declarative statements about meaning are unjustified. The root of the word "meaning" is "mean", which is the way someone or something is conveyed, interpreted, or represented. Each individual has his or her own form of unique perspective; meaning is, therefore, purely subjective. Meaning is the way something is understood by an individual; in turn, this subjective meaning is also how the individual may identify it. Meaning is the personal significance of something physical or abstract. This would include the assigning of value(s) to such significance.
The will to live or Wille zum Leben is a concept developed by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Will being an irrational "blind incessant impulse without knowledge" that drives instinctive behaviors, causing an endless insatiable striving in human existence, which Nature could not exist without.
In positive psychology, a meaningful life is a construct having to do with the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. While specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global schema to understand one's life and the belief that life itself is meaningful. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together; a meaningful life links the biological reality of life to a symbolic interpretation or meaning. Those possessing a sense of meaning are generally found to be happier, to have lower levels of negative emotions, and to have lower risk of mental illness.
Existential counselling is a philosophical form of counselling which addresses the situation of a person's life and situates the person firmly within the predictable challenges of the human condition.
Death anxiety is anxiety caused by thoughts of one's own death; it is also referred to as thanatophobia. Death anxiety is different from necrophobia, the latter is the fear of others who are dead or dying, whereas the former concerns one's own death or dying.
The Doctor and the Soul is a book by Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, the Vienesse psychiatrist and founder of logotherapy.
The Unconscious God is a book by Viktor E. Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist and founder of Logotherapy. The book was the subject of his dissertation for a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1948.
The tragic triad is a term used in logotherapy, coined by Dr. Viktor Frankl. The tragic triad refers to three experiences which often lead to existential crisis, namely, guilt, suffering or death. The concept of the tragic triad is used in identifying the life meanings of patients, or the relatives of patients, experiencing guilt, suffering or death. These life meanings are analyzed using logotherapy's existential analysis with the intent of assisting the patient overcome their existential crisis by discovering meaning or purpose in the experience.
In psychology, meaning-making is the process of how people construe, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self.
Existential Psychotherapy is a book about existential psychotherapy by the American psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom, in which the author, addressing clinical practitioners, offers a brief and pragmatic introduction to European existential philosophy, as well as to existential approaches to psychotherapy. He presents his four ultimate concerns of life—death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness—and discusses developmental changes, psychopathology and psychotherapeutic strategies with regard to these four concerns.
Paul T. P. Wong is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor. His research career has gone through four stages, with significant contributions in each stage: learning theory, social cognition, existential psychology, and positive psychology. He is most known for his integrative work on death acceptance, meaning therapy, and second wave positive psychology. He has been elected as a fellow for both the American Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association.
Second wave positive psychology is concerned with how to bring out the best in individuals and society in spite of and because of the dark side of human existence through the dialectical principles of yin and yang. There has also been a distinct shift from focusing on individual happiness and success to the double vision of individual well-being and the big picture of humanity. PP 2.0 is more about bringing out the "better angels of our nature" than achieving optimal happiness or personal success, because the better angels of empathy, compassion, reason, justice, and self-transcendence will make people better human beings and this world a better place. PP 2.0 pivots around the universal human capacity for meaning seeking and meaning making in achieving optimal human functioning under both desirable and undesirable conditions. This emerging movement is an inevitable and necessary corrective response to the inherent problems of what has been called "positive psychology as usual".
Elisabeth Lukas is an Austrian psychiatrist and is one of the central figures in Logotherapy, a branch of psychotherapy founded by Viktor Frankl. Lukas is an author of 30 books, translated into 16 languages.